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Aces of the Republic of China Air Force

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ISBN: 978 1 4728 0561 4
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The Chinese Air Force did not lack gallantry when it came time to defend its homeland between 1937 and 1945. However, Cold War secrecy in the decades after WW2, lack of English translation efforts in the subsequent years, and Communist Chinese efforts to suppress Nationalist Chinese accomplishments in our current era, the achievements of the CAF were not well known in the west. In Aces of the Republic of China Air Force, Raymond Cheung provided a primer that could be viewed as a remedy. While westerners could perhaps picture Chinese pilots in shark-mouthed American-built P-40 Warhawk fighters engaging in combat against Japanese Army Ki-43 Hayabusa fighters, Chinese victories in Russian-built biplanes might just be a new finding. The fact that the Chinese had scored aerial victories against the Japanese three full years prior to the much popularized Battle of Britain might even come as a surprise. Bolstering the new materials that Cheung brought into to English readers was his exciting narrative of air combat. Furthermore, the nitty gritty details such as dates and aircraft models were exactly what I personally value. To wrap up the book, a few of the pilots' biographies extended into their Cold War successes in American-built jet fighters, downing MiG fighters flown by Chinese Communists.

My only complaint about the book was its use of romanization methods. While there would certainly be nothing wrong phonetically transliterating using Wade-Giles and Postal Map methods, especially considering the fact that they were the standard methods during the WW2 era, the book would certainly benefit by providing in parallel the Pinyin equivalents, as the modern reader would likely be more familiar with this new system. It might not be easy to realize, for example, that the Chekiang Province mentioned in the book was, generally speaking, the same as today's Zhejiang Province. Along the same lines, there were a small number of inconsistencies in terms of the mix-use of Postal Map and Pinyin methods, which could lead to confusion.

With the caveat that my affinity toward WW2-era Nationalist Chinese forces most likely introduced bias, Raymond Cheung's Aces of the Republic of China Air Force was undoubtedly among the best that I had come across in a category that I certainly hope would grow significantly in the years to come. I would certainly recommend this title, and I would also keep Cheung's future publications on my watch list.



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